How can a father get joint custody

Custody: Fathers will have more rights in the future

A father remains a father - even after a separation or divorce. However, up to now, mothers have been able to make it difficult for unmarried fathers in particular to continue looking after the child. Changes in custody should make it easier for fathers to keep in touch with the child in the future.

Who is considered a father anyway?

Is a father in the sense of the law,

  • the man who is married to the mother when the child is born,
  • the man who recognized paternity,
  • the man who the child adopted Has,
  • the man whose paternity is judicially established.

Special case divorce: If a woman is expecting a child from her new partner before she is divorced from the old one, it is sufficient for the biological father to recognize paternity. However, the divorce must have already been applied for, and the still-husband must agree. Otherwise there is nothing left but to fight for paternity in court.

Custody: New law aims to strengthen unmarried fathers!

The best interests of the child should also be in the foreground when it comes to custody

If you are married, you and your wife automatically have joint custody. Nobody can take that away from you even without a valid reason. That would only be possible before a guardianship court - and then it would first have to be proven that this would be for the express good of the child.

Do you have without marriage certificate If you lived with your partner and did not apply for joint custody after the birth, it may have been difficult as a father to keep in touch with the child. In principle, the mother then had sole custody. Parents have been able to apply for joint custody relatively informally since 1998 - but only if the mother agreed. If she refused, the father had no way of enforcing this right. In the event of a separation, the mother could, in the worst case, largely refuse the father contact with his child. Because the father only had the right of access.

Now the Bundestag has passed a law that gives unmarried fathers more rights. As the "Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ)" explains, however, the "Law on the Reform of Parental Care for Unmarried Parents" initially stipulates that sole custody lies with the mother if the parents have not applied for something together.

What is new, however, is that the father can apply for joint custody in the "fast judicial process". To do this, he must in future submit an application for joint custody to the district or family court. The mother then has two weeks for a well-founded objection - if she lets this deadline pass and the judges see no arguments against it, both parents are then given joint custody. The best interests of the child should form the basis for the court's decision. However, this should not be determined through personal hearings with father, mother and the youth welfare office, but exclusively through a "written procedure", as the "SZ" writes.

If the mother objects, a proper negotiation takes place in which all parties involved are heard. If the objection comes too late, the woman can still file a complaint against joint custody with the Higher Regional Court. For example, if your decision is primarily the result of the wish not to have any contact with the father yourself, this should no longer be a sufficient reason in the future. Because here, too, the child's best interests should be decisive - and the new regulation suggests that contact with father and mother is usually part of it.

If a father later wants to apply for sole custody instead of the mother, he will continue to face high hurdles. This should only be possible in the future if the child’s well-being is clearly endangered - for example, if the mother is seriously alcoholic.

While the CDU / CSU, FDP and Greens passed the law, criticism comes from the SPD - as well as from numerous legal experts. They fear that a court will not be able to make a well-founded decision on the best interests of the child, and thus also on custody, if it does not hear any of the parties involved. The concern of the critics: The law could be unconstitutional in this form. According to information from the "SZ", the Federal Council has also already called for the passages on this "short process" to be removed from the legal text.

In principle, the following also applies: regardless of whether they are married or not - even small children from the age of five will be asked which parent they would like to live with when they separate. From the age of 14 they can have a say in this.

Incidentally, the European Court of Human Rights had already criticized in 2009 that unmarried German fathers had no opportunity to have the custody regulation reviewed by a court. The German Federal Constitutional Court also agreed to this just under a year later.

Rights and duties of fathers after divorce or separation:

After a divorce or separation, fathers - among many others - naturally also have countless worries about future contact with their children in their heads. That's why we've put together the answers to some of the most common questions here - just click the appropriate link:

Can I still see my child after the separation?

You are not only allowed to - you are supposed to! In the end Your child needs both parents even after the separation. And without very serious reasons, the mother must not prevent you from meeting the child, writing to him or talking to him on the phone. This also applies to couples in which only the mother has custody. However, it is up to the parents to agree on the details of how they should be dealt with - the legislature deliberately does not make any precise specifications here. Of course, this can lead to disputes.

A special case are men who are the biological fathers of their children, but not the legal fathers: If the mother is married and the child's father has not officially recognized paternity, the mother's husband is considered the father before the law. Until now, biological fathers were only entitled to access rights in such a situation, even against the will of the mother and the legal father, if they had a close bond with these children and were demonstrably responsible for them. The European Court of Human Rights had also reprimanded this practice. Therefore, the Bundestag has now decided that a biological father whose child lives in a family with the legal parents and who has not yet been able to develop a close relationship with the child can be granted access rights if he shows "serious interest" in his offspring. The top priority should once again be whether the contact with the biological father serves the best interests of the child. In addition, in such a situation, the father should also have the right to receive information about the child's living conditions, provided that he shows interest in him and it does not contradict the child's best interests.

What if the child refuses? Of course, this is not only painful, but also a difficult case - no matter what the family constellation looked like. Because even if in principle the caring parent, i.e. mostly the mother, is obliged to advise the child to contact the father, the will of the child applies more and more with increasing age.

In any case, however, you have the right to receive information about how the child is doing - even if contact has been excluded for another reason. For example, you can request copies of certificates or photos.

What can I still decide after the separation?

If you and your ex-partner have joint custody, you can have a say in all central points - for example, when changing schools or having a major operation. In everyday matters, however, the mother does not have to constantly ask for your consent. For example, if you are of the opinion that your daughter is not allowed to go to the party at the age of 15, but the mother sees it differently, she can prevail. If the mother has sole custody, she generally decides.

Am I now just the purser for my former family?

Despite the obligation to provide maintenance, fathers also have to make ends meet

Your children are entitled to Entertains - by both parents! If they live with the mother, she basically does her part through her upbringing and care. You pay your share as so-called cash maintenance. The amount of maintenance depends on your income, the number of children and their age (information about the amount of maintenance is provided by the Düsseldorf table). Important: Even children of legal age can, under certain circumstances, still claim maintenance from their parents.

In most cases this is also at the expense of the father Health insurance: If the children were members of his family insurance before the end of the relationship, they will continue to do so. However, this does not apply to the ex-wife - she has to insure herself.

In the case of children under the age of three, your former partner is also entitled to Care maintenance - it doesn't matter whether you were married to her or not. In certain cases, for example if the child has a chronic illness or if it is not possible to have the child cared for while the mother is working, you may have to pay childcare support even longer.

Incidentally, the fact that you have to pay maintenance does not mean that you only have to toil for your former family: You are entitled to around 1,000 euros per month (you can also find more details in the Düsseldorf table) as a deductible. And if your income is too low or you don't earn anything, you can't give anything away, of course. But: It is your duty to make sure that you can pay. So you can't just quit your job. In some circumstances, you may even have to take on a part-time job in order to meet your obligations.

Do I have to pay the costs if my child visits me on the weekend?

Frequent case: After the separation, the father dares to start over in another city. If the child is him then visited, it must first arrive by train. In general, in this case, the child's father as the person entitled to access actually bears the costs. And unfortunately he cannot deduct it from the maintenance calculation - unless the distance is extremely large. By the way, the father cannot cut child support either if, for example, the child spends the entire summer vacation with him.

Can my ex's new husband adopt my children if we weren't married?

No! Even if the mother has sole custody of the children, her new husband cannot simply adopt the children if you as the biological father are against it. This has even been confirmed by the Federal Court of Justice.

Help, my ex-wife refuses to give me the kids. What can I do?

Often helpful: mediation through a neutral broker

Unfortunately, it happens again and again: Children become a plaything between the arguing parents - and often the fathers who want to maintain contact with their children are prevented from doing so by their ex-partner. It is not uncommon for a judicial settlement to be the last resort.

Peter Eckardt is confronted with such problems on a regular basis. The social pedagogue has been working in family and men's work for more than 20 years. Since 2001 he has been helping mainly fathers, but also mothers, with questions about active fatherhood in the "Fathers Initiative Munich". In 70 percent of the cases, it is about how to deal with separation and divorce. "First of all, affected fathers have to discuss the reasons for the conflict and consider whether they can find an out-of-court solution with the mother," explains Eckardt. It often helps to seek advice from friends and relatives. Even if couples talk about separation rules as early as possible, in an emergency this could reduce the emotionality and create understanding.

When pronunciation seems impossible, Peter Eckardt recommends that Youth Welfare Office or to visit other suitable counseling facilities. The youth welfare office can only make recommendations, but offers those affected the opportunity to find handling rules, for example in mediation talks. The youth welfare office can also organize supervised contact between father and child in difficult cases. Until the situation has eased again, fathers can initially meet their child for a few hours in the presence of a pedagogically trained supervisor.

"The conflict resolution model Mediation is particularly suitable to support parents in their separation conflict to clarify their responsibility for upbringing in the future by mutual agreement, "explains Joachim Hiersemann, specialist lawyer for family law, certified psychologist and mediator in Berlin. Mediation assumes that a" win-win The situation "arises - that means that the problems are discussed through a neutral mediator until each party agrees with the result." However, mediation only brings something if both partners want it, "says Peter Eckardt.

When is the last chance for fathers to go to court?

If all out-of-court options fail, each parent has the option of applying to the family court to regulate how things should be dealt with. In the event that a contact order has already been made, you can initiate the so-called family judge mediation procedure. However, it should be tried again and again to find a settlement with the other parent outside of the court. If necessary, you should think about applying for a care worker. However, the courts are very cautious about such requests.

Ultimately, there is still the option of withdrawing parental custody from the parent with sole custody due to a lack of attachment tolerance. However, even such applications are usually rejected by the courts if the child's center of life is with the caring parent.

What if I fear not to be the father at all?

An almost unbearable situation: The relationship has broken up, and suddenly, perhaps after a bad argument, the question arises: Am I the father of the child at all? If you have really well-founded doubts, you can contest paternity at the competent family court. You shouldn't take too much time with it: One Paternity contestation is normally possible a maximum of two years after the reasons emerge.

Nevertheless, you should think carefully about this step: Regardless of the outcome, not only the relationship with your former partner will be further strained by the procedure, the relationship of trust with your child can also be severely disturbed.

The mother can also ask for clarification as to who the father is - and the child as soon as it is of legal age.

Where can fathers find further information and help?